Back In The Atmosphere
Distraction

I feel so fragile, a thin sheet of glass

I wonder if these feelings will ever pass.

Your light shines through me, reflects off my pain,

My hopes for the future continue to wane.

I dare to dream and I struggle to believe 

In the desperate farces and fantasies I weave.

I keep lying to myself, to last through the day.

I can’t help but wonder, isn’t there a better way?

Unwell

I woke up this morning and felt awful. All of my joints ache, I’m still very tired, and I feel like I’m freezing. At first I suspected I’d somehow deadlifted myself to death, but now I think I’m just getting sick from lack of sleep. I’ve been living on five hours a night all semester, and I guess it finally caught up to me. 

I’m holding out hope that it’ll just kill me. 

I feel so unready for everything. I get messages from my college and even from groups at the college inviting me out to events, and I just don’t want to go. It’s just too hard to go out. I’m going to go to my friend’s prom with her, and to a concert with some other friends, even though all I want to do right now is curl up in a ball under my bed and pray for death. I’m hoping I’ll manage to have some fun somehow.

I also am expected to do a not insignificant job, or even two, this weekend. How I’m going to manage that is a mystery. I need money though. Don’t we all, ha.

Bulletin

I’m sorry to interrupt the story stream, but this needs to be let out.

This is a letter to a girl who I’m afraid I’m beginning to like and that’s really scary for me because I’m a dysfunctional subhuman.

Please don’t like me back. All my friends are leaving me right now I’m beginning to mentally erode again. Who knows how long I have. Please do not become involved with me because I’ll only bring you hurt and try to rely on you to fix my emotional issues. Just stand me up or get another boyfriend and I’ll understand and be alone and that’s okay. I’m not emotionally capable of having relations with other people. 

I’m sorry okay. I am. I wish it wasn’t so hard for me to try to not be a fuckup. I wish I wasn’t constantly overwhelmed by the fear of ruining everything. 

Dan

This is the story of my dad’s best friend. 

Dan had been an old man as long as I had known him. My earliest memory of him was going to his house as a kid, right after a cub scout meeting, and doing pushups in his front yard to demonstrate that I had passed my fitness test.

Dan found my fat kid pushups to be a poor substitute for the real thing. He took his handkerchief from his breast pocket and, folding it in half, put it on the ground in front of me. He told me that if I was doing pushups right my nose should be touching the handkerchief, only about an inch from the grass. More mouthy than most, I told him that if it was so easy why didn’t he do it then. My dad scolded me, but Dan found it funny, and I decided the old guy was alright.

As I got older I learned more about Dan. He had served in the military during WWII, had been sheriff, had a son, and was a widower. I also learned that Dan was very wealthy. I don’t remember ever seeing the inside of Dan’s house, but my assumption was always that most of his wealth was tied up in the accumulation of junk enshrining his garage and backyard shed. Having lived with my father all my life, himself a functioning hoarder, I found nothing wrong with all that. 

Dan died a few years back. I remember it well because it was the first and only year he ate Thanksgiving with us. I remember him being very thin, and keeping mostly to himself. Dan fell ill one night, and was taken to the hospital. My dad asked the nurse on duty if she thought he would make it through the night. The nurse said yes, so my dad went back to work (night shift mechanic). 

The nurse was wrong. Dan died that night, and I don’t think my dad has ever really forgiven himself for not being there when he passed. I learned all that the morning after. After he got the call, Dad came home, and I remember waking up to see him in my room just standing there. I asked him what’s wrong and he said “My friend Dan died.” I could see he was crying, something I’d only ever see him do once before. Tellingly, he said “Have you ever seen me cry before? Because you might tomorrow too.” 

This part of Dan’s story is only the very tail end, and only where it intersects with my ongoing narrative of life. The story of Dan I’d most like to tell is a sad one, and it primarily played out before I ever knew of him.

At a later date, my dad confided in me that he felt Dan hadn’t fought to stay alive. I asked him why, and he told me about Dan’s wife. I had known that at some point Dan had had a wife, but I had never really known much about her. Dan’s wife had had Alzheimer’s, and Dan had stayed devoted to her even as she atrophied and eventually died.

Dad told me that after his wife’s death, Dan had never slept in their bed again, instead falling asleep every night in the recliner in front of the TV. For me there can be no greater image of eternal love than of Dan lying in that chair, unable to return to his bed without his wife. 

Tales

When trying to describe myself, my first instinct is always to begin with my physicality. Once I’ve told the listener the contents of my driver’s license (blue, brown, 5’9”, 150, etc) I can move on to more abstract and overarching concepts about what makes me me. 

One of the first words is often failure, or fuckup, or some derivation of that. Pushing the aside, I try to think of things that define me more acutely than my actions. Eventually ‘writer’ will surface and bob expectantly at me. 

I don’t think my penchant for writing makes me a writer. I think that my self-designation as such stems from my verbality. Everything is words to me. I remember things in strings of words, when I watch TV I see the dialogue scrolling through my head like closed captioning, I attach words to people and memories so that I won’t lose them. As tedious as it must be for the readers of my posts or for anyone speaking to me, I just really like words. 

It’s awesome to me that the phrase ‘calm before the storm’ can mean to be placid in front of a storm, but also to be relaxed chronologically before the gale actually hits. That excites me, it gets my motor going. 

Because of this aforementioned verbality, dialect fascinates me. No story I could dream up can best the salt-of-the-earth tales from real people around the world. To enjoy storytelling seems natural to me. A good storytelling shapes perception of not just the events within but all events that come after for all time. 

To that end, I think I’m going to post some more stories that I’ve been told. Maybe some of you will enjoy them. Who knows. 

Mighty

I breathe, my hand rested against the tile of the wall. With each inspiration and expiration I feel the stone tremble cautiously, as if afraid to surrender itself to my strength. All this would mean nothing should I choose to move it.

Willing my mind down into my torso and out my extremities, I feel my conscious wake the sleepy masonry. With sight beyond sight I become the complex. I feel as it feels and I know what it knows. An intruder enters my domain. I follow his footfalls as he creeps like an insect through the halls. He hesitates before the bathroom door, perhaps hearing the shower running from within.

I seize him. The floor takes the form of my hand as it explodes around his foot, pulling him down. I wind his ankle in a quick counter-clockwise turn, releasing him when I feel he is properly incapacitated. Leaning back, my mind climbs back up the rabbit hole and into my head. Opening my eyes, I turn off the water and step out, wrapping a silk towel around myself.

I dry off slowly, not at all worried about being disturbed. After trimming my mustache and giving my hair a bit of time to dry, I at last emerge to check on my guest. 

He lies where he fell, deathly pale, perhaps unconscious. I nudge him with the tip of my shoe, but he refuses to respond. I rub my temple distractedly, and, sighing at the inconvenience, press a finger again to the adjacent wall. 

I watch as the sand envelops the man’s body and seals itself back over into the lovely geometric tiles. Curling my hand into a fist as I remove it from the earth’s embrace, I flare my nostrils and continue towards the foyer. 

Cold

I was told a great story tonight about my drunken after prom antics. I can’t stop laughing.

"Around 3 AM I went into the bathroom to check on you. This was before I wrapped you up in towels so you were just sitting there in the tub with vomit on your ankles, and your whole body was deathly pale. Your teeth kept chattering and your lips were all red. You looked at me really sadly and just said one word. You said, ‘Cold’. That was when I realized you actually could have died. So I went and got you some towels and wrapped you up."

Crisis

I am having a lot of trouble feeling human recently.

I feel very transient, as if I’m only passing through a village of conscious instead of a permanent resident in a complex of like individuals. 

My every interaction with others is forced and difficult, and much of it is so orchestrated that I’m relieved when people refuse to hang out or to accept invitations. 

I feel like I’m caught in a shadowboxing match, or an elaborate chess game. Myself and those around me are pieces with a limited selection of ‘moves’ which we are doomed to repeat in each new situation. 

Relationships are especially painful. My egotism is becoming more overtly toxic and I feel near-constant revulsion at what I’ve become, such that it contends with my near-constant revulsion for the mere humans around me. I find it so easy to push them into types that I can understand and predict, but in doing so I’ve drained all the joy from socialization.

I feel very dead inside, and very hollow. An almost welcome feeling after the abject misery contained in the last two weeks. 

What am I doing. How do I feel again and feel organic instead of like an artificial being trying to force itself into relating with ‘real’ people. 

I suppose I’ll do nothing. Perhaps Spring break will restore me to life. 

It’s just worst when I lie in bed and I text people and I can’t even communicate or express anything and I have no idea how to even appear as something like what they are.

Whether I am greater or far lesser my mind has yet to decide on, though as usual it’ll probably settle on an exalted loathing. 

Fuck
Saturday night I got hammered. I have no memory of what I did, but according to others I mainly threw up and tried to fight people. No one will text me back and my lip is swollen where someone hit me in the face. I only went to prom for the memories but thanks to my stupidity I have none. I'm sorry everyone. I really fucked up this time and I really feel like an awful and pathetic person.
Honest Mistake

One sunny day, a young woman was walking down a road near a coastal loch. Her attention was drawn by a frantic splashing, and turning her head, she noticed a man struggling to stay afloat.

"Help! Help please! I’m dr-" 

The man could only make a pathetic ‘druh’ sound before bobbing back under and coughing repeatedly in an attempt to clear his lungs. 

The young woman turned away and continued walking down the lane. 

"What!? No please! You have to help me!"

The man’s incredulous voice reached her, and she turned to face him. 

"I really can’t today. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and someone else will come and save you."

"You fucker! I can’t believe your nerve!" 

The man ceased bobbing now, seeming to hover with his upper torso affixed a-top the water. 

"You damned heartless bastard, get down here and save me right now from drowning."

"You seem to be doing completely fine right now."

"What are you-glurghbl…"

"Now you’re only make gargling noises with your mouth. You must think I’m very stupid."

"Very stupid or very cruel! To let a poor old man die here.”

"Fine, have it your way, I’m coming in. You better be grateful. I have a very busy day planned and no time for your shenanigans."

"Well thank you your majesty, I had no idea the Queen herself was putting herself out on her big day to save a life."

"I’m warning you though, you’re going to be surprised."

"Ha, and as will you."

The young woman removed her boots and socks, rolled up her pants legs before taking a running start and diving into the loch near the man.

No sooner had she entered the water then the man began to contort. His face swelled out and misformed, and from his throat a horrible laughing neighing began to issue. 

"You are a fool!"

The Kelpie continued laughing as it lunged to grab her, its gelatinous skin making contact with her sides. 

However, the being the monster had grabbed was no longer a human. He found himself holding a sea lion which sat in front of him, cocking its head in bemusement. The animal easily disentangled himself from the Kelpie’s similarly seal-like skin, and swam back to shore. 

As the woman shook off her feet and put her socks and boots back on on the shore, the Kelpie lie floating on its back, its four legs splayed out.

"I told you you would be surprised."